Just the beginning

By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  August 4, 2009

Connolly adds that Mainers embrace the adage "Live and let live," and it's that persuasive tack that pro-marriage forces will use to appeal to Mainers at-large. "We're not going to be able to win just with the [support of voters in the] Greater Portland area," he says. To that end, the No On 1 campaign is setting up offices in Bangor and Lewiston, in addition to its brand-new space on outer Forest Avenue.

Beyond what both sides acknowledge will be an enormous grassroots outreach effort, there are other factors that will contribute to the outcome in November. Money, of course, is one of those — and Connolly is prepared to be "heavily outspent" by Stand for Marriage Maine, which has received large contributions from the National Organization of Marriage and Focus on the Family, two national conservative organizations, as well as the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland (which oversees the Catholic Church statewide). According to recent financial filings, marriage opponents have more than twice as much money as their pro-marriage counterparts (who have also received infrastructural and financial support from out-of-state entities).

Another consideration is that this is a non-presidential-election year. Stand for Marriage chairman Marc Mutty (he's on leave from his usual job as a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese) thinks this will benefit his cause.

"The traditional point of view on this is that on off-year elections you have the ... older crowd, conservative crowd — young people, by and large, don't tend to be that dedicated. That would bode well for us," he says, candidly acknowledging a truth of which some opponents might be ashamed: that gay marriage is largely a generational issue, one that barely fazes young people (conservative and liberal alike) but ruffles their elders' feathers.

What the gay-marriage debate Maine will boil down to is "who runs the most efficient, widespread kind of campaign and who has the most effective messaging," Mutty says. "There's no question this is close. The polling that they do and the polling that we do show that those numbers are very tight. This is not going to be a slam-dunk for either side."

"We're poised to become the first state to win," Connolly counters, confidently. But, he adds: "A lot of things have to go right."

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